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Hawaiian Mythology – Music/Steam Lesson Plan

Author: Rebecca Penerosa

Year: 2014

Artform: Music

Subjects: Science

Grade: 4th, 5th, 6th

Duration: Two 45 minute lessons

Overview: In this lesson, students will learn elements of science, technology, engineering, art, and math by composing songs on the iPads. The 12-Bar blues will serve as the format for compositions and GarageBand will be the app of choice. As an extension, students may create tableaux and apply their composition to an iMovie.

Standards and Objectives

Creating: The student will create music through improvising, arranging, and composing.

Create original music and add expression and style to existing music.
a. Improvise simple rhythm and/or melody patterns to echo back and forth and manipulate in a variety of ways to create various styles, first with the voice and then with found sounds or instruments.
b. Improvise a soundtrack for a story and/or a poem.

Consider effects with dynamics, timbre, pitch, texture, and tempo. Plan, practice, and perform it for classmates.
c. Create, plan, practice, and perform a familiar song in various styles.
d. Create together a new song and/or a new chant (“rap”).

In whatever order works, do the following: As a class, choose the subject, compose the verse, and consider using some of the simple improvised rhythm/melody patterns created together above. Select a style of music. Determine the kind of rhythm, melody, timbre, form, and texture the style needs. Work together. Plan, practice, and perform it for each other. Consider recording it.
e. Build and demonstrate a simple instrument to provide sound effects for any of the above projects.
f. Compare and contrast creating style in music with creating style in dance movements, paintings, stories, plays, statues, buildings, commercials, movies, etc.

Express ideas, thoughts, and emotions aesthetically through singing, playing, and/or creating.
a. Exhibit through music an appreciation for the subtle beauties inherent in everyday life.

Select and express through music an idea, thought, or feeling found in the world; e.g., nature, dance, a picture, a movie, a story, real life.
b. Balance reason and emotion in creating, practicing, and performing.
2-ESS2-3. Obtain information to identify where water is found on Earth and that it can be solid or liquid. 3-ESS2-2. Obtain and combine information to describe climates in different regions of the world.

4-ESS3-2.Generate and compare multiple solutions to reduce the impacts of natural Earth processes on humans.* [Clarification Statement: [Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions.]

MS-ESS3-2. Analyze and interpret data on natural hazards to forecast future catastrophic events and inform the development of technologies to mitigate their effects.
  1. Students will proficiently compose the lyrics, rhythm, and melody to an original piece using the Garage Band application.
  2. Students will be able to compose an original accompaniment using the 12-bar blues chordal structure.
  3. Students will learn the basic scientific properties of both volcanoes and snow.
  4. Students will draw connections between what they have learned scientifically and what they will read about Hawaiian mythology.



  1. Read to the students the Pele and Poliahu: A Tale of Fire and Ice by Malia Collins (Author).
    • While the students are listening, have them mark descriptive words that are characteristic of each goddess.
  2. Discuss the characteristics of a Volcano using the Earth Facts sheet (found in Other Information). With the students, draw connections between the character Pele and the true volcano facts, such as “Hawaii is a mantle plume.” Take notes on possible lyrics for the upcoming composition.
  3. Discuss the characteristics of a Snowflake using the Science of Snowflakes worksheet (found in Other Information). With the students, draw connections between the character Poli’ahu and the true snowflake facts, such as “A snowflake is a bunch of snow crystals stuck together”. Take notes on possible lyrics for the upcoming composition. (Possible fine art connection – make the perfect six-sided snowflake! – There is a definite technique to this, and they can turn out quite beautiful.)


Background knowledge: At this point in the instruction, students should be comfortable with basic rhythmic notation, pitch names, and scale degrees. Optional: Kennedy Center 12-Bar Blues Lesson plan

  1. Introduce to the students the 12-bar blues chord structure sheet. Divide students into groups of 4. In groups, have them complete the worksheet, checking to see that they circled I, IV,V, which should be C,F,G.
  2. Using the Lyrics and Rhythm Worksheet, have the students place the correct chord names into the rectangles.
  3. Review with the students the rhythms that have already been taught in class.
  4. Choose half of the class to write lyrics for Pele and the other half to write lyrics for Poli’ahu.
  5. Instruct the groups to come up with lyrics that fit into the 12 bars, with this structure:
    • One sentence for measures 1-2 (eight beats)
    • One rhyming sentence for measures 3-4 (eight beats)
    • One sentence for measures 5-6 (eight beats)
    • One rhyming sentence for measures 7-8 (eight beats)
    • One short phrase measure 9 (four beats)
    • One short phrase measure 10 (four beats)
    • One sentence to finish off the song for measures 11-12 (eight beats)
  6. Have the groups write their lyrics and underlying rhythms using the worksheet. Assess each group by having them chant their lyrics (taking up 12 measures exactly) for the class.


  1. Pass out iPads – one per group.
  2. Instruct the students to open up the Garage Band app.
  3. Have the students in each group take turns following your instructions as you explore the features of the Garage Band app.
  4. Open up a new song and click on the plus to make the recording 12 measures. Record the parts in this order:
    1. Percussion - use either drums or smart drums. Students may explore before recording. When ready to record, press the red button and wait for the four-beat introduction. Lay down the track and press the stop (square) button when finished. Return to the vertical layout of the instruments. If the students want to keep the track, then they can click the plus to add a new instrument... if not, they can double click on the green bubble that represents the rhythmic passage and choose “delete”.
    2. Bass – Following the chords written in the rectangles of the previous worksheet, have the students practice playing the appropriate notes for chords C,F, and G. When ready, have the students record the track and choose to keep, or delete and re-record.
    3. Guitar – This section is similar to the bass section, however students can play around with clicking on the letter, which will give them the sound of a chord, or clicking on individual strings, which will give an arpeggiated sound. Students may also play around with rhythm here adding syncopation if desired. Once again, have the students practice, then record and choose their final selection.
    4. Keyboard – This is optional, students may want to compose a melody using the keyboard, or simply sing their part over the rhythm section. If desired, students may choose to change the setting to a pentatonic, or blues scale offered on the bottom of the screen. This can help with improvisation so that all notes chosen will sound good.
    5. Vocals – Students may now choose the audio recorder button, which will allow them to record their voices. Allow the groups who are ready to go to a designated quiet area and record the lyrics and melody to their song. There are different distortion options which are fun to explore as well.
    6. Extras – students may wish to add strings or other extras to their track. Keep in mind that they follow the chords laid out in their worksheet so that the song will sound consonant.
  5. When the students are ready, have them play their finished product for you. Assess any changes that may or may not need to be made.
  6. Now that the song is complete, the groups need to type their lyrics on a word document and copy and paste them into They may choose from the different drop down menus to change the color and orientation of the words. When they are finished, they can print them out and use the larger words for the next part of the lesson which encompasses a dramatic interpretation of their lyrics.

While most integration lessons aim to serve an academic subject and an art form, this lesson encompasses five areas of instruction. In this lesson, students will learn elements of science, technology, engineering, art, and math by composing songs on the iPads. The 12-Bar blues will serve as the format for compositions and GarageBand will be the App of choice.
  • What are the 12-Bar Blues?
  • What is the legend of Pele and Poliahu?
  • How does a volcano erupt?
  • What happens when the lava touches something cold, such as water or ice?
  • How can I compose a song using GarageBand on the iPad?
iPads have settings in which the display may be larger or items presented more clear for those with special needs. Here is a link with specific accessibility information.
  • Eruption
  • Magma
  • Volcanic gas
  • Blues
  • Key signature
  • Scale
  • Application
The Goddesses Pele and Poliahu date back to ancient Hawaiian mythology.
Grade each student’s composition using the 12-Bar Blues worksheet and accompanying rubric.


Check out these fun volcano facts for kids. Learn about hot magma, famous eruptions, volcanoes on other planets, volcanic gases, flowing lava and more. Enjoy our wide range of strange and interesting facts about volcanoes.

  • Volcanoes are openings in the Earth’s surface. When they are active they can let ash, gas and hot magma escape in sometimes violent and spectacular eruptions.
  • The word volcano originally comes from the name of the Roman god of fire, Vulcan.
  • Volcanoes are usually located where tectonic plates meet. This is especially true for the Pacific Ring of Fire, an area around the Pacific Ocean where over 75% of the volcanoes on Earth are found.
  • While most volcanoes form near tectonic boundaries, they can also form in areas that contain abnormally hot rock inside the Earth. Known as mantle plumes, these hotspots are found at a number of locations around the globe with the most notable being in Hawaii.
  • Hot liquid rock under the Earth’s surface is known as magma, it is called lava after it comes out of a volcano.
  • Some famous volcanic eruptions of modern times include Mount Krakatoa in 1883, Novarupta in 1912, Mount St Helens in 1980 and Mt Pinatubo in 1991.
  • While we certainly have some big volcanoes here on Earth, the biggest known volcano in our solar system is actually on Mars. Its name is Olympus Mons and it measures a whooping 600km (373 miles) wide and 21km (13 miles) high.
  • The object with the most volcanic activity in our solar system is Io, one of Jupiter’s moons. Covered in volcanoes, its surface is constantly changing to the large amount of volcanic activity.
  • Most people think of volcanoes as large cone shaped mountains but that is just one type, others feature wide plateaus, fissure vents (cracks were lava emerges) and bulging dome shapes.
  • There are also volcanoes found on the ocean floor and even under icecaps, such as those found in Iceland.
  • Volcanoes can be active (regular activity), dormant (recent historical activity but now quiet) or extinct (no activity in historical times and unlikely to erupt again). While these terms are useful, scientists are more likely to describe volcanoes by characteristics such a how they formed, how they erupt and what their shape is.
  • Common volcanic gases include water vapor, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, hydrogen chloride, hydrogen fluoride and hydrogen sulfide.
  • Volcanic eruptions can send ash high into the air, over 30km (17 miles) above the Earth’s surface.
  • Large volcanic eruptions can reflect radiation from the Sun and drop average temperatures on Earth by around half a degree. There have been several examples of this over the last century.
  • Pumice is a unique volcanic rock (igneous) that can float in water. It can also be used as an abrasive and is sometimes used in beauty salons for removing dry skin.

OTHER INFORMATION: The Science of Snowflakes, and Why No Two Are Alike BY: JULIA GRIFFIN

  • Scientists use the term “snow crystal” more than snowflake. According to Libbrecht’s website, “A snow crystal, as the name implies, is a single crystal of ice. A snowflake is a more general term; it can mean an individual snow crystal, or a few snow crystals stuck together, or large agglomerations of snow crystals that form ‘puff-balls’ that float down from the clouds.”
  • A few facts about snow crystals: They are formed from water vapor that condenses directly into ice inside of clouds. They take shape as water vapor molecules from cloud droplets condense and freeze on the surface of a seed crystal, and patterns emerge as these crystals grow. The seed crystal itself forms on a tiny particle, like a speck of dust in the air, which serves as a base for ice growth.
  • “You can actually see these ice nuclei in all snowflakes,” Hallett said. “Not with the naked eye or a regular microscope, but put it in an electromagnetic microscope and you will see it.”
  • Note: Snowflakes are not created from frozen raindrops. Liquid water that freezes in the atmosphere as it falls to the ground is actually sleet. And hail, Libbrecht said, is just a large piece of sleet that collects water and grows as it travels from the atmosphere to the ground.
  • Water molecules -- made of one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms each -- are ultimately responsible for the familiar six-sided shape we associate with snowflakes.
  • “Atoms and molecules can hook up in different ways and, in the case of water, they like to hook up into a hexagonal lattice,” said Libbrecht, who studies the physics of crystal growth. “That underlying structure is how the crystal gets its sixfold symmetry.”
  • Temperature and humidity are the two main factors that influence how the crystalline structure forms. If the temperature and humidity level changes, so does the growth pattern of the crystal.
  • At low humidity you get simple plates and simple hexagonal blocks, Libbrecht said. At higher humidity, more branched structures.
  • “[A snowflake’s] final shape is a history lesson of how the thing grew,” Hallett said. “The outside edge of the crystal is where it grew last, and as you go inward you can tell [the conditions of] where it was before.” And temperature also plays a major role in the forming of flakes.


  • Lesson Plan
  • Worksheets
  • Pencils
  • iPad lab with sufficient iPads for each student
  • The GarageBand app downloaded and set up on each iPad, projector, computer